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Patriots offensive line takes home ‘Madden’ award

02.03.11 at 7:29 pm ET
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The Patriots offensive line was named the winners of the annual “Madden Most Valuable Protectors” award on Thursday. New England came out on top of a group of lines that included fellow finalists Kansas City, New York Giants, Atlanta and New Orleans, a collection that was chosen by John Madden. The winner was then chosen after fan voting on NFL.com. Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir were on hand in Dallas to accept the award.

Read More: Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, John Madden, mark levoir

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi

02.03.11 at 11:00 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2011 NFL draft.

Gabe Carimi

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Wisconsin

Height: 6-foot-7 1/8

Weight: 315 pounds

Achievements: Outland Trophy (2010), consensus All-American (2010), Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year (2010), First team All-Big Ten (media, 2009), Second team All-Big Ten (coaches, 2009), Academic All-Big Ten (2010, 2009, 2008, 2007).

What he brings: Carimi spent his days in Wisconsin at left tackle, but he is considered he top right tackle prospect in the draft. One of the tougher offensive linemen out there, the ‘€œmean streak’€ cliché is often used to describe Carimi. He has a crazy 83 2/8-inch wingspan, which was second best last week in Mobile. As noted above, the 22-year-old won received the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nations’€™ best lineman. The last four players to receive it all ended up being top-10 picks (Ndamukong Suh, Andre Smith, Glenn Dorsey, Joe Thomas), though Carimi figures to come off the board sometime around the mid-to-late first round.

Where the Patriots could get him: No. 17 or No. 28 Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Potential Patriots,

Jay Glazer on D&C: ‘It’s amazing how incredibly alike these two teams are’

02.03.11 at 10:07 am ET
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Fox Sports NFL reporter Jay Glazer checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday from the Super Bowl in Dallas, which is being hit with sub-freezing temperatures again Thursday. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“You should not have a Super Bowl site where SPF is not involved,” Glazer joked.

Looking at the game, Glazer said it’s a tough one to choose. “This is the most evenly matched Super Bowl I can remember in years,” he said. “And all the players I’ve talked to ‘€” I’ve talked to players, coaches ‘€” they’re like, ‘Man, we can’t pick it.’

“If you look at these two teams, both quarterbacks are better at extending the play than any QB in this league besides Michael Vick. Basically, half the time, the play doesn’t really start until you hit those guys. Both receiving corps can gut you and gas you. Both defenses, very, very violent defenses, 3-4 defenses. Both offensive lines, they’ve been decimated at times by injuries. Both coaches, the coaches are ‘€” they’re the same guy. They’re grunts. They’re no-drama grunts. It’s amazing how incredibly alike these two teams are.”

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger insists he’s found religion and wants to be a role model following his much-publicized offseason problems. On Wednesday he reportedly was seen drinking and singing at a Dallas-area piano bar. Glazer said that shouldn’t matter. “He’s a grown man,” Glazer said. “Something like that doesn’t make you not a role model.”

Asked if Roethlisberger’s teammates, who previously offered little support for the hard-partying, obnoxious quarterback, believe he’s a different person, Glazer replied: “They think he’s trying. I’m not saying he’s changed or anything like that. But they think he’s trying. He’s trying with a bunch of people.”

Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Glazer,

Packers say their season started to turn around with loss to the Patriots

02.02.11 at 11:15 pm ET
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When it came to the 2010 Packers, the turning point in their season came on the night of Dec. 19 at Gillette Stadium.

Green Bay was coming off an ugly loss to the Lions, a defeat that saw starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers get knocked out of the game with a concussion, his second of the season. The Packers also had several players limited in practice over the course of the week, a group that included linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Charles Woodson. Rodgers was ruled out late in the week, and an already struggling Green Bay team was given little chance at winning.

But even at less than their best ‘€” including a botched sequence late in the game that prevented them from what might have been an attempt at a game-winning touchdown ‘€” the Packers hung tough and nearly matched the Patriots. Without Rodgers, Green Bay pushed New England to the limit, but eventually fell 31-27, a loss that dropped them to 8-6 on the season.

In a game that will be remembered around New England as the night Dan Connolly delivered one of the most memorable kick returns in franchise history, for the Packers, the contest was a tribute to their depth. Green Bay ‘€” which eventually landed 16 players on injured reserve over the course of the season ‘€” got 251 yards passing from backup quarterback Matt Flynn, while other players also stepped up and made big plays at key times in the contest.

While the phrase ‘€œmoral victory’€ is tough for players to stomach when it comes to explaining away late-season losses, the defeat to the Patriots galvanized the Packers, and showed them what they were truly capable of. If they could go on the road and almost knock off New England with a backup quarterback, well, there’€™s no telling what they could accomplish.

‘€œYou don’€™t win games off of moral victories, but you can take a lot away from them. What we took from that game was we have a lot of guys who are going to step up and fight despite of who’€™s playing,’€ Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings said Wednesday when asked about the December loss to the Patriots. ‘€œThat is why we are here today ‘€” because of guys being able to step up and fill voids.
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: aaron rodgers, Charles Woodson, Clay matthews, Greg Jennings

From Lynn, Mass., to North Texas and Super Bowl XLV

02.02.11 at 10:57 pm ET
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There will be an unmistakable New England presence on hand for Super Bowl XLV this Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.

While the Patriots took a very unexpected exit on Jan. 16, the folks that sell the very valuable space in the glossy, sharp souvenir program hail from Lynn, Mass.

And while it’s not a 30-second TV ad on FOX for $3 million, H.O. Zimman sells ad space in the award-winning program that will be on sale inside the stadium before and during the game and on-line and on newsstands and bookstores nationwide afterward.

According to Zimman, circulation of the game program approaches 1 million, with pass-on value of five readers per copy. There is extensive distribution throughout the United States, with saturation in Florida and in the home markets of the two Super Bowl teams, Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

Then there’s the national presence on newsstands and in bookstores, as well as in airports, hotels, special kiosks, and on-line for purchase at NFLShop.com.

The Super Bowl program advertising message will also appear in the Super Bowl digital version. In the several weeks preceding and following Super Bowl XLV, the Super Bowl XLV official souvenir magazine will be available for free viewing and hard-copy purchase on NFL.com. The site expects to receive more than 50 million unique visits and experience approximately 500 million page views during this time.

This year’s program is 264 pages, with in-depth features on the NFL’s history in Dallas and the team that calls the stadium home when it’s not hosting the biggest sporting event on the planet. This is, by the way, the first time Dallas has hosted the Super Bowl and there’s plenty of pages devoted to the occasion.

A personal favorite is the feature of all 44 previous winners and their rings, in all their glory and gaudiness, including the rings from the Patriots’ victories in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX.

Read More: Fox Sports, Green Bay Packers, H.O. Zimman, nfl

Complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s Q&A with the NFL Network on Wednesday night

02.02.11 at 8:19 pm ET
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Here’€™s the transcript of Bill Belichick‘€™s interview with the NFL Network on Wednesday after he was named the winner of the AP Coach of the Year Award:

Thoughts on winning the award: ‘€œIt’€™s a tribute to our ownership, our assistant coaches and certainly the players. They’€™re the ones who’€™ve stepped up and made the plays this year. We had a lot of new people on the team, young players that contributed, and it’€™s certainly an honor to receive this award on behalf of our performance in the regular season. Unfortunately, we weren’€™t able to carry that over into the playoffs.’€

On holding three of the first 33 picks in the 2011 Draft: ‘€œWell, we’€™ve already had a couple of offers on them, so we’€™ll see what happens. We’€™ll do whatever we can to improve the team, whether that’€™s move up [or] move down. Just try to add more players and more depth to our roster.’€

Biggest challenge in 2010? ‘€œIt was interesting. We had a lot of different challenges this year, both in the AFC and of course, the NFC schedule, where we played Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota. So it was really a different challenge every week and I just have to give a lot of credit to the players. They adapted. They adjusted. We had some tough weather conditions, like the snow out in Chicago for example, but the players did a good job of staying focused and playing through those conditions. And we were able to get a lot of turnovers defensively at the end of the year, and offensively, we had a lot of points and special teams for us early in the year, so it all kind of balanced itself out one way or another during the course of the season.’€

On the Super Bowl matchup between Green Bay and Pittsburgh: ‘€œThey’€™re both excellent football teams. We played them both in the second half of the season. I think Green Bay is very explosive offensively, and they have excellent coverage people in the secondary, along with a good pass rush ‘€” I think getting [Cullen] Jenkins back ‘€¦ of course, we didn’€™t play against Rodgers, but getting Jenkins back is a big boost for them defensively. The Steelers are solid, and they’€™re a very experienced team, especially on defense. They have a lot of veteran players and they’€™ve been in these games and these situations before. I think the experience edge might go a little bit to Pittsburgh. The overall performance in the last five, six weeks of the season probably Green Bay. It should be a heckuva game. Both very well coached teams, both of them.’€

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Bill Belichick wins AP Coach of the Year honors

02.02.11 at 8:07 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year Wednesday night. It is the third time Belichick has been honored as a head coach ‘€” he also won the award in 2003 and 2007.

‘€œIt’€™s a tribute to our ownership, our assistant coaches and certainly the players,’€ Belichick said in an interview with the NFL Network after he won the award. ‘€œThey’€™re the ones who’€™ve stepped up and made the plays this year. We had a lot of new people on the team, young players that contributed, and it’€™s certainly an honor to receive this award on behalf of our performance in the regular season. Unfortunately, we weren’€™t able to carry that over into the playoffs.’€

Belichick guided the Patriots to an NFL-best 14-2 record in 2010. He became the first head coach ever to win at least 14 regular-season games in four separate seasons (2003: 14-2, 2004: 14-2, 2007: 16-0 and 2010: 14-2). Only four other coaches ‘€” San Francisco’€™s George Seifert (3), Washington’€™s Joe Gibbs (2), Chicago’€™s Mike Ditka (2) and Miami’€™s Don Shula (2) ‘€” have more than one 14-win season.

Belichick received 30 votes, while Tampa Bay’€™s Raheem Morris and Kansas City’€™s Todd Haley got 11½ votes each. Meanwhile, Atlanta’€™s Mike Smith, Philadelphia’€™s Andy Reid, Chicago’€™s Lovie Smith and St. Louis’€™ Steve Spagnuolo all got one vote each.

Under Belichick, the 2010 Patriots set and tied numerous NFL records. They set a league mark for fewest turnovers in a 16-game season with 10, set an NFL record by playing seven straight games without a turnover, set an NFL record with seven straight games with 30 points and no turnovers, tied an NFL record with eight straight games of 30 points or more and tied an NFL record for fewest interceptions in a season with five. The 2010 team also set a franchise record by finishing the season with a turnover differential of +28, forcing 38 turnovers while allowing just 10 turnovers. The turnover differential of +28 is the second-best since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, trailing only the +43 posted by the 1983 Washington Redskins.

In addition, the 2010 Patriots finished first in the NFL in scoring (518 points for a 32.4 average) and eighth in the NFL in fewest points allowed (313 points for a 19.6 average).

‘€œWe had a lot of different challenges this year,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œI just have to give a lot of credit to the players. They adapted. They adjusted. We had some tough weather conditions, like the snow out in Chicago for example, but the players did a good job of staying focused and playing through those conditions. And we were able to get a lot of turnovers defensively at the end of the year, and offensively, we had a lot of points and special teams was good for us early in the year, so it all kind of balanced itself out one way or another during the course of the season.’€

Read More: Andy Reid, Bill Belichick, Don Shula, George Seifert
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